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Vicki Watson's Cycle Challenge

12 December 2012

Vicki Watson, Director of Diversified Investment Strategies in Auckland, decided that participating in the recent nine day 551km Queensland Cycle Challenge would be a great way to fundraise for the Malaghan Institute. A big thank you to Vicki who completed the event and raised over $1200!


Vicki's personal account of the cycling journey:

I woke up numerous times frozen and disorientated trying to shrink into a fetal position to warm my feet from hanging over the edge of my ¾ inflatable mattress. The first night of my adventure proved to be not as balmy as I expected. Camping in Gayndah in central Queensland can be very cold at night. Gayndah was our starting point of the Queensland Cycle Challenge. We arrived there after a very early flight from Auckland and then a 5 hour bus trip.

1. One of the many campsites

After shivering through the night, finally it was Saturday morning. The excitement was certainly mounting along with the nerves – would, could I make it through the week? The first anxious moment - had the bikes survived the journey? After locating my bike from one-of-a- thousand and extracting it from its bag, I was relieved to see the myriad of bubble wrap and the milk container over the derailleur had served its purpose. The first day didn’t start until 12 noon and if Gayndah was cold overnight it was now 27 degrees – a bit of a shock after cycling in Auckland in August.


2. One of the many Tents - yes it is a Tent

We were off. I am sure the first day was set to test the “stayers” from the “players”. Who thinks Australia is flat? The first day tested our endurance through heat and a 4km, 9% climb. This climb proved to be the only time there was an accident involving a vehicle when a car and caravan driven by a “Grey Nomad” (as they are affectionately known in Australia) passed on a double line and then pulled in on top of cyclists as an oncoming truck and trailer appeared around the corner. Caroll and I proved to be “stayers” with first day completed successfully. This was the only day that all cyclists started off together – quite a spectacular sight.

Another freezing night and then a very early start – too cold to sleep. Each day began with a hearty breakfast, fabulous latte from the coffee van and packing up a wet tent (heavy dew) and camping gear. We would throw our bags onto the truck (at least it was supported) and we‘d be off, most days leaving camp between 7-8am.

Day two we were on the move as the first day was a loop ride so we didn’t have to pack up. They were kind to us on this day as only 65 km and mostly flat – mind you their idea of flat is different than mine even though I am used to cycling in Auckland.

The 3rd day. I woke up this morning and managed to extricate myself out of the tent with the quad muscle kicking and screaming into life. 84km was the ride distance today. I was lulled into a gentle pedal up until morning tea, coasting along a mostly downhill tree lined shaded road - beautiful. Actually, the rest of the ride was rather good too as I managed to get with a peloton cycling at a slightly faster pace than I would normally ride but got dragged along with them until lunch time. This really helped conserve my energy.

Magpie Helmets

Magpies on various days were a problem with one chap having a nasty spill trying to avoid the Maggies (even Magpies have a knick name in Oz). Many cyclists tied various bits and pieces to their helmets and bikes to deter the pesky birds. These folk were the most decorative:

4. Rest Stop at Hervey Bay

Day 4 – one more day before rest day. This was a ride on quite a busy highway into Hervery Bay. Not too taxing being only 57 km. Finally we were at the coast at morning tea and the first opportunity to rest beside the seashore. Our campsite was right down by the beach, but wasn’t warm enough for me to brave a swim.

On our rest day you can only guess at what Caroll and I decided to do.  That’s right, cycle into the town. Mind you it was only 10km there and back. Coffee, fish & chips, and ice creams were deliciously consumed without guilt after all of our cycling.


After our rest day we had two rather challenging days ahead - one of 81 km and then the biggy 102 km. They really pulled out all the stops with the last 25 km all hills. Actually, I found the hilly last 25 km the easiest section of the 102 km ride, compared to the morning session which was flat and with a strong head wind. At least with hills you get a bit of a rest as you go whizzing down the other side. We slept well that night.

You didn’t want to suffer from vertigo on this one:

Each night when you arrived in camp one of the most time consuming tasks was finding your bag.

We were rewarded each night with hot showers and hearty meals. The organisation was absolutely amazing to provide and feed nearly a 1000 riders and numerous volunteers and staff.

Country Life Hotel

Various morning and afternoon tea stops were along the route and one was just alongside this old hotel. As can be seen by the lineup of bikes under the verandah many gave the water and healthy snacks a miss in preference for a beer at the “Country Life Hotel”. I can vouch that Caroll and I were not among them – hard enough getting up the hills without a beer on board.

Day 8 was a ride from Gympie to Cooroy. Cooroy was a lovely little settlement. I probably had nice thoughts about it as this was our last night of camping. Then on the final day we only had a 30km ride through beautiful green lush forests down into Noosa Heads.

We made it - Caroll and I at the finish line

The whole ride was a fantastic experience – I loved every minute and didn’t want it to end.

Cheers, Vicki

Cycle Queensland 2012 - Gayndah to Noosa: "Citrus to Sea"

Day 1: Gayndah Loop 56km
Day 2: Gayndah to Biggenden 65km
Day 3: Biggenden to Maryborough 84km
Day 4: Maryborough to Hervey Bay 83km
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: Hervey Bay to Tiaro 79km
Day 7: Tiaro to Gympie 95km
Day 8: Gympie to Cooroy 59km
Day 9: Cooroy to Noosa 30km